Folks, I’ve been wallowing in self-pity again. But I’ve also been doing some reading. Virtue or Sin gave me some advice. Some very simple advice, really, but very good advice nevertheless:
“Google ‘Peptide addiction’.”
So, I did.
Peptide addiction — the love and relationship addiction.
There’s a theory that kinda explains why good people always end up getting drawn back to the same bad guys time and time again, and why they keep getting sucked back into the same relationships, with the same disastrous personalities … and the same earth-shattering results.
Could it really be as simple as an addiction? A peptide addiction?
It seems like a bit of a daft concept and I must admit that I did snort a little when I first started looking into the idea of a peptide addiction. But, as I just said, it does kinda half explain why people stay in relationships with partners that lie to them, cheat on them, or beat them. And why good guys chase after hot women who end up choosing really bad guys instead of the good ones. Could it really be the case that our brains have become addicted to the feelings you get when you go through the same toxic cycles in those relationships? Are the ups and downs of a bad relationship so powerful that they literally have the same effect on your body as recreational drugs?
It’s all do with the limbic system, apparently.
Your brain reacts in the same way when you’re in a bad relationship as it does when you are addicted to something — drugs or alcohol or whatever. It’s the peptide addiction; you get addicted to the hormones that your body feels when you a) break up and then b) make up … as well as all of the other emotions in between.
It starts with dopamine.
When you’re in love, happy, basking in the smugness of the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, your body starts to release hormones called dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine is the hormone that makes you feel all happy and excited, an important hormone that helps us to become interested in things, feel pleasure, plan events, think ahead, and focus on whatever it is we’re working on. It’s also responsible for a bunch of other stuff — the function of your kidneys and blood vessels, sleep patterns, attention span, movement, and much more.
In short, dopamine is powerful, and essential for your body to work as it should.
Then you have oxytocin.
This is what your body releases when you are intimate with a partner. Kissing, hugging, fucking, etc. On studies performed on female lab rats [massive fucking ew to the animal cruelty], when oxytocin was boosted, their libido was also boosted, as was their sexual interest – generally and with mates.
In short, the more you release oxytocin when you’re intimate, the more you’ll actually want to be intimate.
The same study on female lab rats showed that those with a deliberate reduction in oxytocin not only had absolutely zero interest in sex or potential mates but were generally a bit miserable. Poor sods.
*You can find more information on that study right here.
And then you have cortisol.
Cortisol is the hormone that causes your body to feel stressed, and when oxytocin and dopamine are increased in the body, cortisol levels go DOWN. That means you feel LESS stressed.
Put it all together and …
Well, you have a recipe for success … or disaster, depending on which way you look at it. When you fall in love, your body is flush with good hormones and devoid of bad ones, so of course you’re going to feel slightly euphoric. It actually makes sense that your body would come to rely on or become addicted to those hormones.
But then you have a big crash. Things go wrong, relationships end, tears come … endlessly. The good hormones are no longer flooding your body, but the bad hormones are. Cortisol increases, your stress levels increase, and you feel like shit.
When you think about it from a hormone perspective, you can almost understand why breaking up from someone you actually really cared about hurts so much. Your body was loving those happy hormones … and it hates the unhappy ones. You’re going good-hormone cold turkey!
It explains a lot!
It explains why I kept running back to The Hubby time and time again, even though he literally destroyed me and my whole world. Or tried to, at least. When we were good, we were REALLY, REALLY good. We had the most amazing sex, he’d make me laugh like no one else on the planet, and we were best friends. It was us against the world, the awesome little duo that we were.
But we weren’t like that all the time. In between those brief periods of happiness, getting briefer and briefer as time went on, another side of him came out. The angry side. The one that would call me names, cheat on me, leave me with no access to money, and beat the shit out of me. Looking back now, I can’t imagine why I wanted to stay with him for as long as I did, or what compelled me to. But back then, I felt like it was too much of an impossible task to just walk away. I was so in love with him, obsessed with him almost, that I’d have put up with virtually anything from him in order to feel the happiness when we were happy.
Exactly the same thing can be said for Big Love, too. He may not have beaten me up, but he definitely called me names from time to time. And rather than leaving me without money, he just spent a bunch of our hard-earned and saved cash on “hookers and blow”. When he started taking cocaine, I started taking cocaine – and I’ve got a really addictive personality. It was dangerous territory for me to be in. For us both to be in.
Even when things were really, really bad though, I still stayed. Our good times were even better than my good times with The Hubby, and I saw things and felt things that I never even dreamed I would get close to experiencing. He was my knight in shining armour, taking me away from a life of misery and sadness, opening up brand new doors and worlds to me that I will never forget. Of course I was addicted to that. I was addicted to all of it.
My first boyfriend was a control freak who literally tried to govern everything I said, did and wore. He got physical with me once or twice, too. One of those times was in our form room at school and the other boys in there weren’t happy about it. I’m pretty sure I remember one or two of them giving him a good roughing-up for that.
And then there was The Fireman. We had a beautiful relationship. Weird, but beautiful. It lasted around two years and I genuinely thought he was going to be the man I married and spent the rest of my life with. But then again, haven’t I thought that about all of them at some point or another? I fall in love at the drop of a hat. It apparently doesn’t take much to win me over.
But even The Fireman hit me. There were times that he pushed and shoved me around, and even his mother got involved to give him a telling off once or twice. But that’s not why we split up. We found ourselves in the strangest situation ever: my step-father dating his mother.
MASSIVE FUCKING EW.
It was too much. It destroyed us. Our relationship went down the pan reeeeeaaaaaal quick.
There have been some really good guys in with those [part-time?] bad guys, though. But guess what? I wasn’t interested in them. Not as much as I was with the bad boys. My Mr. Grey gave me hot, kinky fuckery on a plate but me/we couldn’t make our mind up. I can say the same thing about The Lapdog, and One Ball. They would’ve given me everything I ever wanted and then some, but it wasn’t good enough. They didn’t treat me like shit enough. The highs weren’t high enough and the lows weren’t low enough.
I wasn’t addicted enough.
When I think about it all like this, I’m practically convinced that peptide addiction is a real, genuine thing that we go through when we fall in love with people who go on to break our hearts. But how do you go about repairing your heart and fixing the problem, detoxing from the hormones that are making you make stupid mistakes? It’s not like there are programs for the heartbroken, or a safe, synthetic substitute that we can take as we wean ourselves away from the up-and-down cycle of love.
Instead, all we can do is quit, cold turkey.